Saturday, 24 March 2012

Arsenal vs Aston Villa Preview: Team News and Injury Updates and more

Guess who’s back?

Back again, ‘Verse is back, Tell a friend, Guess who’s back? guess who’s back? Danuna nu nu nu nu,

Or something like that. Despite my wishes for some elaborate entrance music to mark my return to the world of the blogosphere, I am afraid there will be no slim shady entrance music no matter how much I wish.

It has certainly been a while and whilst I wish there was an exciting reason I am afraid it is just a case of work getting in the way of things I love doing.

Since my hiatus the footballing world has literally been rocked by the shocking news of Fabrice Muamba’s Sudden Cardiac Arrest in the FA cup tie against Tottenham. I am truly shocked and saddened by this news and wish him and his family all the best in this difficult period. I sincerely hope he makes a full recovery.

So on to things Arsenal. So much has happened since I last spoke to the masses and despite my best intentions I have been unable to write anything. I tried a couple of nights ago and quite literally couldn’t get anything down. I feared the worst; I feared I had lost my mojo. Fear not though, as the nonsense spouting blogger is back and this time I am going nowhere. *Cough cough*

Arsenal will be raring this afternoon in the hope of extending their winning run of 6 league games in a row. How fortunes have turned in the past few weeks. Following disappointing defeats to AC Milan and Sunderland in the Champions League and FA cup respectively, it seemed as though Arsenal’s season was over. No hope of winning silverware yet again and doubts over Arsenals chances of qualifying for Europe’s premier competition next year seemed to suggest that we were heading towards some really dark places.

Amazing what one month can do to one’s fortunes. The league table looks markedly different to the one we saw in February and morale has changed to point beyond recognition. There was a sense of doom and gloom among Arsenal fans and despite my best attempts to be optimistic even I feared for the first time that we may not actually get top four.

If you have read my blog over the past 6 months or so you would have noticed, contrary to the masses, I have generally praised the team we have. Whilst I always think any team could be improved, even Barcelona, I do think that we have the foundations of a really strong team at the moment. I have spoken about team work and how application is important and to be fair to this set of players aside from a really poor spell in January they have generally done well. That does not mean to say I would not love to see someone of the quality of say a Mario Götze at Arsenal, as I feel that we can always improve. I have long been of the opinion that we are only two world class players away from challenging.

Regardless we have a number of exciting prospects as well as a number of more vintage players who are at the moment demonstrating extreme importance to the club at a crucial stage in the season. The number of players that are playing well at the moment is incredible and I would say it is a testament not only to the manager but to the players who have really played for the shirt. In fact, I recently read an excellent piece that whilst I don’t fully agree with raises some excellent points about being careful what you wish for. Do we really want to bring in players at the expense of players we are indebted to at the moment? Of course it is important to strengthen but by buying vast numbers of world class players we are in actuality preventing future world class players such as the Ox. On that note I would like to do something I don’t usually do and give the writer a shout out. Make sure you check out his blog. Definitely worth a follow on twitter; @goonerdave66.

Arsenal vs. Aston Villa Preview

Anyway, on to more pressing concerns which for today is overcoming an Alex McLeish side. Aston Villa have been pretty poor this season and whilst we have already beaten them twice this season, this game is no given. I would love for us to have a comfortable day today but feel it could be a struggle given the way he sets his teams up against us. Unless we can get an early goal or maybe even two, I expect Villa to have ten men behind the ball and really try and disrupt our game. They have some injury problems and have struggled to score without Bent.

Team News

On the injury front are doing much better though. With the news that Wilshere is back in light training with the team, involving ball work he is essentially three weeks away from returning to the full squad. Wenger said:
"Wilshere is back with the ball and for us that is a huge step, the work we do with the ball is always quite demanding. Today we can say if all goes well now in three weeks he will be back with the squad. Then another two weeks to get fit. I don’t have to hold him back yet because at the moment he suffers a lot for fitness. But after three weeks we’ll have to.”

Certainly positive, especially combined with the fact there were no fresh casualties following the Everton match so we have a relatively full team to pick from. Funny how the end of an injury crisis coincided with the end of “a club in crisis”?

Our only injuries at this moment in time are Coquelin (hamstring), Wilshere (ankle), Frimpong (knee), Mertesacker (ankle). The latter two not expected to be back this season but the former two are.

The team I expect to line up is:


Sagna                          Koscienly                                Vermaelen                   Gibbs

                                    Song                                        Arteta

            Walcott                                   Rosicky                           Chamberlain


I wouldn’t be surprised though if there were more changes given the relative short period since we last played.

Here is hoping that we can extend our current run and go on to 7 premier league wins in a row. For random thoughts and arsenal RTs, be sure to follow me on @goonerverse.

Come on you Gunners!!!


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